The Corner

Wildlife Rescue

So I keep hearing that these efforts to capture, clean and release oiled wildlife are counterproductive. Most eventually die from the stress of the oil and, apparently just as stressful, the dishwashing soap baths. In one of those weird ironies of nature, being surrounded by a bunch of soapy-sponge-wielding attractive University of Alabama female zoology students in wet t-shirts is an excellent plot device for a late night cinemax movie when the subject “victim” getting a bath is a sensitive-yet-jocular ski instructor, but it’s terrifying if you’re a brown pelican.

So here’s a question: Why can’t they sedate these animals at the scene? Is it just impossible to knock them out? I understand that anesthesia is more dangerous than a lot of people realize and finding the right dosage for an otter or bird might be hard. But wouldn’t it be better to lose a few brown pelicans in the process of figuring that out? That way teams could more quickly and thoroughly clean the birds and put them in a safe environment when they wake up. And, if they’re going to die anyway, at least they won’t suffer nearly as much.

Obviously I’m missing something.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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